Solar power in New Mexico

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Solar power in New Mexico has the potential for supplying more than all of the electricity used in the country,[1][2] and can obtain 43% of its electricity from rooftop solar panels.[3] A Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 20% renewable energy by 2020, with 4% from solar power from investor owned utilities, and 10% renewable from rural electric cooperatives.

Parabolic trough[edit]

Main article: Parabolic trough

Parabolic trough solar systems have been determined to be the most cost effective large systems[citation needed], and in July 2008 New Mexico's utilities combined to release an RFP for a parabolic trough solar system to generate from 211,000 and 375,000 megawatt-hours (MW·h) per year by 2012.[4][5] New Mexico generated 514 MW·h from solar power in 2006, and 1,760 in 2007.[6]

Sandia National Laboratories[edit]

Sandia National Laboratories has been testing solar thermal devices at Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). On January 31, 2008, a Sterling solar ice-cream dish system set a solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record of 31.25 percent net efficiency. The previous record was 29.4 percent, set in 1984.[7]

Net metering[edit]

Main article: Net metering

As of July 29, 2008, New Mexico has one of the most generous metering laws in the country, and covers all systems up to 80 MW. Excess generation of less than $50 is rolled over to the next month; over that is paid to the consumer.[8]

Renewable Portfolio Standard[edit]

The New Mexico Renewable Portfolio Standard calls for 20% renewable energy by 2020, and 4% from solar power from investor owned utilities, and 10% renewable from rural electric cooperatives. Renewable Energy Certificates, (RECs), may be sold through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS).[9]

Installed capacity[edit]

As of January 2012, no concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are currently planned for New Mexico, although the state has the capacity to install 4,860,000 MW of CSP covering 47% of the area of the state, sufficient to generate 16,812,349 million kWh/year,[10] four times what is used by the entire country. Thermal storage allows 99% efficient 24-hour dispatching of electricity from CSP.[11]

New Mexico Solar Capacity (MWp)[12][13][14][15][16]
Year Photovoltaics
Capacity Installed % Change
2007 0.5 0.2 67%
2008 1.0 0.6 100%
2009 2.4 1.4 140%
2010 43.3 40.9 1704%
2011 165.5 122.1 282%
2012 203.4 37.9 23%
2013 256.6 49.1 24%
2014 325 68.4 27%
2015 365 41 12%


  1. ^ Plugging in Renewable Energy pg. 11
  2. ^ U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis pg. 13 (4 times as much from CSP)
  3. ^ Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment
  4. ^ Four utilities partner on major solar project
  5. ^ State's four major utilities partner on solar project
  6. ^ New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and Renewable Energy in New Mexico
  7. ^ Solar Power: New World Record For Solar-to-grid Conversion Efficiency Set
  8. ^ Net Metering
  9. ^ Renewables Portfolio Standard
  10. ^ Renewable Energy Technical Potential
  11. ^ State Electricity Profiles
  12. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 17. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  13. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 23. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  14. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  15. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  16. ^ New Mexico Solar